Friday, October 15, 2010

Safe and Sound


A long-time friend was in an accident last night, which caused a momentary scare and set me on a course of thinking about friends, the passage of time, our mortality, and who we are at this stage in the game. I've also been thinking about personal power, which is a regular ponderance theme for me anyway.

We all have to come to terms with the fact that not everyone on the planet is going to think we're as awesome as our dogs believe we are. Some people don't care what others think, and it would appear that I wouldn't with the way I'm quick to react and constantly open my big mouth, but I do. I'm an adult now (kind of) so I can handle rejection with some dignity, and in some cases it's a relief to be rejected by the truly crazy people I've co-dependently brought into my sphere. But there's still that moment where you think, "Wah! They don't like me!"

There is also the even darker issue of someone who truly does not wish you well. In my own experience, whenever I have wished someone would fail, which thankfully has been rare, it's because I was feeling threatened in some way. Until recently I could not see when others carried that same motivation, I would instead just take everything completely personally. Taking things overly personally is one of my lifelong passions.

During my time in CSFH, there was one person with whom I fought constantly. I was on the defensive but undoubtedly behaved offensively. I felt undermined and sabotaged all the time. There was a mean-spirited subterfuge and will to control swirling in the room that I was not mature enough to deflect properly. As a result, I was regularly in a fit of  rage, shouting and stamping my feet ineffectually. I couldn't handle the flow of selfish intent moving in my direction, and I didn't fully understand what was happening. In the end, I simply walked away. It was too uncomfortable to live in that toxic energy for a minute longer, and I still blame the dynamic for the band's demise. Well, that and grunge...

I have never talked about it with anyone other than the inner circle because it was such a complicated thing, and I still to this day have love in my heart and really don't want to hurt the person who hurt me so badly all those years ago by spouting our fights publicly. I think in some way, too, the little girl in me still wanted this person to like and accept me. We'd shared so many amazing, funny, historical moments together that I see what a wonderful person they can be, and I have never wanted to sully the good memories with nonsense bitterness, especially after so much time has passed.

But whatever, this is not a blog meant to stir up dirt about the past. I'm far more intent upon examining the dynamic of personal power and the journey toward understanding and trusting what is real.

I have always had a certain charisma that pulls people into my circle. I didn't get this until recently, and in my younger years I felt extremely insecure about every aspect of myself. I was able to use my physical appearance to get attention and approval from men, so this was the one area that I could wield some power, but of course this is an outside source that only fills you up for a short period of time, and I always believed that I was only conning people into finding me attractive. On the female side of my social life, I would often carry people that desired my energy, feeling comfortable playing the giving lead role, but I would inevitably walk away feeling sapped out and used while the other party hated me for starting out so strong and then abandoning them after one too many crises.

I can see with hindsight that my energy and appearance were so threatening to this one particular person that they felt the need to take action to keep me down at a level that felt comfortable to them. It wasn't malicious as much as an unconscious attempt at self-preservation, which, in the end, is the reason for all of our malicious behavior, isn't it? I bought into it as well, nothing happens in a vacuum, and I felt safe playing the role of the band bimbo and wild card, the one many wanted to fuck who didn't pay attention to the business details or the one that shouted like a maniac what the rest of the crew were thinking but were afraid to articulate. 

After the dust settled, years passed, and I was free of the day to day awfulness, I worked very hard to maintain peace and a friendship. It worked for a time and I even got the apology I never thought would come. But in the end a truce simply wasn't possible. I was rejected, which is ironic considering that I thought I was being the great giver in the whole scenario. But it was still the same dynamic, and because I am unable to squash my true self down any more now than I was all those years ago, a rift was inevitable. The rejection and bitterness coming off of this person hurt me. But I am okay with it now because I can see clearly that this whole scenario was never really about me.

I did have to ask myself this question once I got over festering on how awful I perceived my treatment from the same hand twice in one lifetime: Why was I spending so much time caring about the thoughts of someone who has never had my best interest at heart anyway? Can't I be confident enough in my own worth to enjoy the abundant love and friendship that is available to me from other sources? That is a revelation in itself: How about we stop rolling around in the mud with the assholes when there are a million good people out there who have no interest in keeping us down? What a freeing thought! And last night I got a text that my other ex-bandmate was in the hospital, and this point was driven home. I am so grateful that she's going to be fine and that I will have more chances to thank her for her support and love over the last 20 years.

We all have our own power that very few of us know how to manage, especially when we're young. We allow bosses and lovers and strangers to tell us that we are unworthy, or only worthy of love, money, attention, whatever the currency is, if we forfeit something of ourselves in return. The truth is that we are completely magical from the get, we just need to get out of our own way and let it shine. 

But how to do that? It's like solving a puzzle that changes up all the time.

In my case, I am being forced to let go of the beauty of youth; I notice men in the room looking past me at younger women. I am pretty okay with that right now, although it is a definite process to let go of one identity and get comfortable in another. It is forcing me to move on to a new chapter in life, one in which I have to rely upon other means to feel whole and loved, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

I am also still hiding at least a portion of my light under a bushel to make a living, and I'm unsure of how to make the shift into feeling the sunshine on my face (mixing metaphors?) while still getting the bills paid. I'm definitely in a much better space with this than I was many years ago, working bar jobs that destroyed liver and self esteem, but the question remains: how to find a way to work in a place that most resonates with our energy, that makes us feel good about ourselves, that makes the world a better place? This is what I desire most these days.

I see some of my beautiful girlfriends dampening themselves down to keep their men or attract men. I am so incredibly lucky that I have a man who is unafraid of strong females, and indeed finds my loud friends and me entertaining rather than scary or "too much". But I wouldn't have been able to handle his acceptance years ago, and it has taken me years to trust that his love is real. He, like anyone else, has his own personal doubts and fears that sometimes make him doubt how strongly his own light shines. And so it goes with everyone I know. 

The mission seems to be to reach an understanding of how great we really are, and by "we" I don't mean the outer, fleeting shit that we use to hold our egos up, but our actual true, creative, loving selves. I wish it would arrive all at once, but maybe the plan is designed to take a lifetime, or maybe a few? I don't know. I do know that it's enough for tonight to know who I am as much as I can at the moment, who my friends are, and that we're all safe and sound.

2 comments:

Skullgal said...

This made me cry. Do you live in my head? This is exactly what I've been going through for over two years now - how to find work that nourishes rather than steals energy? It's a scary journey but I firmly believe we all have a place waiting for us where we can shine and give and love every day. This blog is a gem. I feel more resolute in my decision to change my life having read this! And I look forward to keeping up on your journey as well. Keep up the good work, Raff.

Raffaele said...

Aw, what a nice comment, Erika! Thank you so much. I'll keep an eye on your blog to see how your job situations unfolds.